Lakewood track leaders among state’s best

Junior Nick Howe placed 13th in the boys 800. He returns to help lead next spring’s Lakewood team. - Photo courtesy RANDY ORDONEZ
Junior Nick Howe placed 13th in the boys 800. He returns to help lead next spring’s Lakewood team.
— image credit: Photo courtesy RANDY ORDONEZ

TACOMA — Lakewood athletes put their best foot forward at the state track tournament at Mount Tahoma High School.

Over the three-day meet from May 28-30, more than one Cougar surprised the competition, if not their coach, with some of the state’s most outstanding performances.

Seniors Lacey Nation, Cameron Hess and Payden Butler, along with junior Taylor Guske, all made appearances in the top three of their events.

After placing fourth at the district meet a week earlier, Nation took third in the girls 3,200.

“Tactically, she ran very well, starting at the back of the pack and continuing to pass people. If it had been a little longer, she might have caught Mimi Krieger for second place,” said Lakewood coach Jeff Sowards. “Of the girls in our district, she had by far the best race.”

Likewise, fellow distance runner Guske had an outstanding performance to take second in the boys 3,200 with a time two seconds better than anything else he ran this year.

The junior’s spring season extends the streak of strong races he has run, dating back to last fall’s cross country season.

“He continues to mature as a runner and an athlete,” Sowards added. “His 3,200 was probably tactically the best race that he may ever have run.”

While Guske did not run at the same level in his state 1,600 race, he still placed sixth with a time around his season average.

Hess and Butler, Lakewood javelin throwers who have placed first and second in pretty much every contest this season, were happy to place second and third, exceeding their rankings coming into the meet. In a switch, though, Hess overcame his previous best to set a new personal record in the javelin, beating Butler for the first time this season and taking the silver with a mark of 177-1.

“Anytime you have a personal record as significant as his was, almost 10 feet, I suppose you could say it was a surprise,” Sowards said. “But coaches see things that observers at a meet don’t always see and I wasn’t surprised by it.”

“We both motivated each other all year,” Hess added, after being awarded his medal. “It’s been a dream for the last three years. It’s good to end senior year second and third at state.”

Butler was a dual state performer, also placing 12th in the pole vault with a mark of 12-6, joining teammate Spencer Hulslander in the event. The fellow senior placed seventh, with a mark of 13-6.

After recovering from an ACL injury late in his sophomore season, senior Nikolay Borisov competed at his first state tournament since his freshman season, qualifying for state finals in the boys 110 hurdles after also running the 300 hurdles. He placed eighth in the shorter event and ninth in the longer. Teammate Anthony Tanner finished 11th in the 110 hurdles, sixth in his preliminary heat.

Senior sprinter Devon Smith fought of sickness during the track season to qualify in the boys 400 for the third straight year. He placed 10th overall, also competing with Borisov and fellow Lakewood stater Nick Howe in the boys 4x400 relay, which placed ninth with a time of 3:29.11.

Howe placed 13th in the 800 and returns, with Guske, to help lead next spring Lakewood class back to the state meet.

The only female representative at the state meet, Nation’s run in the 3,200 single-handedly placed the team tied for 28th place. The boys finished in a three-way tie for eighth place, which included district rival Burlington-Edison.

Sowards credited his coaching staff, both paid and volunteer, for contributing to the team’s success.

“We definitely made a point of working with our athletes as people first and as athletes our second goal,” he said.

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